View Full Version : saddle for the straight-backed but narrower horse? treeless?

Hampton Bay
May. 22, 2011, 08:26 PM
Hubby has been trail riding my arab occasionally, and the western saddle no longer fits the pony :(

This boy has the flattest back ever when viewed from the side, but he's not terribly wide. He has pretty significant withers, and then behind them he's just flat as a board. Most saddles rock on him, which is the problem with this one. I've managed to rebuild the panels on my english saddles, and then shim a bit, but with a western saddle I don't know that I can do much.

We are on a major budget, but for something we could both ride in I would spend more. He's about 250lb, so I need something that will distribute weight well. Hubby prefers something more western in style, though the horn is optional. I'm hoping to get into some CTR and maybe endurance with him, so comfy in the seat is a huge plus.

The arab is short-backed, so a 16" western is about as big as he can fit.


May. 23, 2011, 07:22 AM
Look into the Abetta saddles. They make a saddle for the arab back and they are lightweight also.

Hampton Bay
May. 24, 2011, 12:32 AM
Look into the Abetta saddles. They make a saddle for the arab back and they are lightweight also.

The abettas I've used would be way way too curvy for a flat-backed horse. He's not wide and round like a normal arab, he has a very flat but not wide back with pretty good withers. His back shape is much more like a TB than a typical arab.

May. 24, 2011, 02:16 AM
what about a gaited horse tree?

May. 24, 2011, 07:45 AM
I'd recommend a Bob Marshall Sport Saddle with the peaked front. You will have good wither clearance with the peaked front and the saddle will shape to the horse. these saddles can be a bit uncomfortable on the wide tabletop backed horses but are great on narrower horses. Yes, they work fine for heavyweight riders but should be used with a good SKITO pad with the firmer (and thicker) foam inserts. The reason I suggest the Skito pad is that they make their pads with a very peaked front to accomodate the withers well and they have a selection of foam densities and thicknesses available. Most other pad makers have only one foam for their inserts. You should be able to find a used 16" saddle for sale.


May. 24, 2011, 10:58 AM
I have a problem similar with my TWH. So I went with a Wintec dressage pro with the adjustable tree. It still doesn't fit him perfect so I use a english pad folded 2 time as shims in the withers. As he is still muscling up from 4 years off lost in a pasture, his back is changing. That is why I like that adjustable tree.

If the saddle is rocking on your boy, it isn;t fitting him in the withers or the back correctly.

But in the final choice, you have to try every saddle on him to see if it will fit.

Good luck.

Hampton Bay
May. 24, 2011, 11:07 PM
SO the treeless ones are OK for heavy riders?

NO WaY IN HECK on a wintec. My Bates has been nothing but a nightmare, from the broken tree, to them refusing to fix it, to finally getting the tree replaced and finding out they put the panels back on very very crooked.... Won't ever buy a single thing from them ever again, not even a girth. HORRIBLE customer service, no longer even respond to me.

What about endurance models? What tends to work on these back shapes for long distances?

May. 25, 2011, 07:56 AM
Some treeless models will work well for many heavyweight riders but you must realize that for most types of treeless saddles the saddle pad is an important part of the fit and weight distribution.
Startrekk saddles are one of the more structured treeless saddles but you said you were on a budget so you would have to find a bargain on a used saddle. On the other hand, most sellers will give you a short trial period on a used saddle.

Another possibility is flex panel saddles, Orthoflex, etc.


Hampton Bay
May. 27, 2011, 10:15 PM
Which treeless brands might work for a horse with high-ish withers? Looking for a medium to narrow twist. Nothing too much like sitting on a 2x4, but the twist on most western saddles is too wide for me, and hubby has been saying that it's bothering him too.

May. 27, 2011, 10:44 PM
The Bob Marshalls tend to be too long for short backed horses. The startreks can work for higher withered horses and can work for shorter backs. The Sensations are probably the best for the short backed horses but don't work well for very high withers and aren't warranteed for riders over 200#. My horse has what I consider average withers and my sensation hybrid works very well for him, I'm not a lightweight rider either. Perhaps the barefoots with the new vps panel system may work. I highly recommend you join the treeless saddles group on yahoo groups and ask your questions there. There are lots of very knowlegeable people there and sometimes the manufacturers and dealers of different brands weigh in with opinions. Nobody will try to sell you on any particular brand if it they don't think it will work for you and your horse.


May. 29, 2011, 01:44 PM
What about this saddle?


Halcyon Days
May. 29, 2011, 02:51 PM
Hmmm, my vote would be for an ortho-flex for a narrow, straight spined, high withered horse, they work great! I LOVE my Bob Marshall too, and you can make it work with the Skito pad with laminated inserts (built up). Most men really like the aussie saddles too, and they work well with narrower built horses

Hampton Bay
May. 29, 2011, 11:23 PM
Big Horn is a brand we are considering, and there is a tack shop an hour away that carries Big Horn. I've been looking at aussie saddles too, but don't know much about the middle-range brands? The Syd Hill leather ones aren't in the budget right now.

In doing more research on abetta, they might work. The ones I rode in 10 years ago seemed to rock, but it seems like all the reviews now say they tend to bridge, except the arab tree models. This guy isn't going to fit anything on an arab tree anyway. His back shape is much more like a TB than an arab, but the withers aren't shark-fin. He's a MW in my Bates last I checked. He's nothing like the barrel on toothpicks like the arabs I grew up riding.

I also thought about a deep-seat dressage saddle, but hubby would need at least a 19". My 18.5" was too small for him, and the seat wasn't super deep.